Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Museum of Art


Media Contact:
Annie Hughes
Communications Associate
Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Museum of Art Welcomes Art and Faith of the Crèche:

The Collection of James and Emilia Govan



CHICAGO, October 23, 2007 — This November, the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) begins the holiday season with its newest exhibition, Art and Faith of the Crèche: The Collection of James and Emilia Govan. The exhibition, which will be on display from November 17, 2007 through January 27, 2008, features 100 contemporary crèches, otherwise known as Nativity scenes.

Composed over a period of 30 years, the Govan collection includes crèches from more than 100 different countries and cultures. To supplement this rich exhibition, and to provide a Chicago flavor, LUMA has also borrowed two elaborate szopki, crèches traditionally made in Krakow, from the Polish Museum of America and Mitchell and Frances Wiet.

Derived from medieval religious pageants, crèches have been created by artists for generations. Although historically rooted in the Christian faith, the Nativity story has transcended its traditional meaning among a variety of cultures, a people of all faiths. Thus, while traditionally displayed by Christians, these crèches are made by artists from a wide range of cultures and faiths, including Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, and Jewish artists who have adapted and modified the Nativity scene to reflect their own architecture, clothing, and cultural traditions," says Pamela Ambrose, director of LUMA.

Singaporean artists Amos and Albert Tay, for example, have created delicate crèches made of cinnamon wood paste. These artists have expressed their Taoist tradition by modeling Mary after Kuan Yin, the bodhisattva of mercy. The stable has taken the form of a pagoda. Such unique depictions of the Christmas story instill the Nativity with a meaning that resonates with Christians and non-Christians alike.

Public Programs:
Saturday, November 17, 5-8 p.m.
Opening Night
Spectators of the Magnificent Mile Festival of Lights are invited to view Art and Faith of the Crèche and enjoy delectable holiday treats. At 6 p.m., the collector James Govan will sign the exhibition catalogue. Admission is free.

Sunday, November 18, 2 p.m.
James Govan Lecture
Free with museum admission
Stop in and enjoy a lecture and walk-through led by James Govan. Experience a special look into the mind of the man whose collection forms the basis of the exhibition, Art and Faith of the Crèche.

Tuesday, November 27, 6 p.m.
The History of the Crèche
Free for members/ $5 for non-members
Location: William G. and Marilyn M. Simpson Lecture Hall at LUMA
Reservations are strongly suggested: luma@luc.edu or 312-915-7630.

The crèche has a long and important history in Western Christianity. As a Christmas tradition celebrated during the Advent season, its roots as a popular devotion began with Saint Francis of Assisi who, in 1223, set up the first Nativity scene in a manger in order to remind the faithful that Jesus was born in a humble stable. Mark Bosco, S.J., assistant professor of theology and English at Loyola, will trace the crèche's historical importance, its theological significance then and now, and its varieties of artistic production throughout the centuries.

The exhibition is supported in part by the Illinois Arts Council, Argo Tea, and Aramark.

About LUMA
Opened in 2005, the Loyola University Museum of Art is dedicated to exploring, promoting, and understanding art and artistic expression that illuminates the enduring spiritual questions of all cultures and societies. As a museum with an interest in education and educational programming, LUMA reflects the University’s Jesuit mission and is dedicated to helping people of all creeds explore the roots of their faith and spiritual quests. Located at Loyola University Chicago’s Water Tower Campus, the museum occupies the first three floors of the University’s historic Lewis Towers on Chicago’s famous Michigan Avenue. For more information, visit the museum’s website at LUC.edu/luma.

Art illuminating the spirit!